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The Nogai people (also written as Nogay or Noghai, and sometimes called Caucasian Mongols) are a Turkic ethnic group in northern Dagestanmarker and neighbouring areas of Chechnyamarker and Stavropol Krai. They speak the Nogai language and are descendants of Kipchaks who formed the Nogai Horde. They are named after the Nogai Khan.

Nogai divisions

From the sixteenth century until their removal in the mid-nineteenth century the Nogais were divided into the following sub-groups (west to east along the Black Seamarker coast of present-day Ukrainemarker):
  • Bucak Nogais inhabited the area from Danube to Dniestermarker.
  • Cedsan (Jedsan) Nogais inhabited the land from Dniester to Bugmarker.
  • Camboyluk(Jamboyluk)/Camboj Loke(people) Nogais inhabited in the lands from Bug to the beginning of Crimeanmarker peninsula.
  • Cedişkul (Jedishkul) Nogais inhabited the north of Crimean peninsula.
  • Kuban Nogais inhabited the north of Sea of Azov around Prymorskmarker (previously Nogaisk).


The name Nogai is derived from Nogai Khan, a general of the Golden Horde.

The Nogai Horde supported the Astrakhan Khanate, and after the conquest of Astrakhan in 1556 by Russians, they transferred their allegiance to the Crimean Khanate. The Nogais protected the northern borders of the khanate, and through organized raids to the northern steppes prevented Slavic settlement. Many Nogais migrated to the Crimean peninsula to serve as khan's cavalry. Settling there, they contributed to the formation of the Crimean Tatars. However, Nogais were not only good soldiers, they also had considerable agricultural skills. The Nogais mastered skills of growing grain and irrigating on the dry steppes they inhabited. They cultivated spring wheat and drought resistant millet. They raised various herds and migrated seasonally in search of better pastures for their animals. Nogais were proud of their nomadic traditions and independence, which they considered superior to settled agricultural life.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the ancestors of the Kalmyks, the Oirats, migrated from the steppes of southern Siberia on the banks of the Irtysh Rivermarker to the Lower Volga region. Various reasons have been given for the move, but the generally accepted answer is that the Kalmyks sought abundant pastures for their herds. They reached the lower Volga region in or about 1630. That land, however, was not uncontested pastures, but rather the homeland of the Nogai Horde. The Kalmyks expelled the Nogais who fled to the northern Caucasian plains and to the Crimean Khanate, areas under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Some Nogai groups sought the protection of the Russian garrison at Astrakhanmarker. The remaining nomadic Turkic tribes became vassals of Kalmyk Khan. After the Russian annexation of Crimea, the Nogai pastoral land was occupied by the Slavic settlers, since the Nogais did not have permanent residence. In the 1770s and 1780s Catherine the Great resettled approximately 120,000 Nogais from Bessarabiamarker and areas northeast of the Sea of Azovmarker to the Kuban and the Caucasus. In 1790, during the Russo-Turkish war, Prince Gregory Potemkin again ordered the resettlement of some Nogai families from the Caucasus, where he feared they might defect to the Ottoman Turks, to the north shore of the Sea of Azov.

Through the 1792 Treaty of Jassy (Iaşi) the Russian frontier was extended to the Dniester River and the takeover of Yedisan was complete. The 1812 Treaty of Bucharest transferred Budjak to Russian control.

After confiscating the land previously belonged to Nogais, the Russian government forced Nogais to settle through various methods, such as burning their tents and limiting their freedom of movement. The Russian General Suvorov slaughtered several thousands of rebellious Kuban Nogais in 1783. Several Nogai tribes took refugee among the Circassians in this period. Several other Nogai clans began to immigrate to the Ottoman Empire in great numbers. The Nogais followed two routes. An estimated 7,000 Nogais of the Bucak and Cedsan Hordes settled in Dobruja before 1860. Most of these Nogais later re-migrated to Anatolia. However, the great exodus of the Nogais took place in 1860. Many clans from Camboyluk and Kuban Hordes moved westwards to southern Ukraine, and wintered with their co-ethnics there in 1859. They emigrated either through Feodosia or Kerch ports or crossing via Buçak steppes to Dobruja. 50,000 of the roughly 70,000 Nogais of the Kuban and adjacent Stavropol region left Russia for the Ottoman Empire at this period. They induced the Nogais of Crimea (who lived in the districts of Evpatoria, Perekop and in the north of Simferopol) and southern Ukraine for emigration too. 300,000 Crimean Tatars (which included the Nogais) left Crimea in the year 1860. Similarly, 50,000 Nogais disappeared from southern Ukraine by 1861. Other Nogai clans emigrated directly from Caucasus to Anatolia, together with the Circassians (see Muhajir ).

Nogais lived alongside German Mennonites in the Molochna region of southern Ukraine from 1803, when Mennonites first arrived, until 1860, when the Nogais departed.

Present inhabitations

In the 1990s, 65,000 were still living in the Northern Caucasus, divided into Ak (White) Nogai and Kara (Black) Nogai tribal confederations. During the Soviet period, they did not have administrative-territorial recognition, which retarded their national development. Nogais have lived within the territories of Daghestanmarker, Chechnyamarker, and Stavropol district. In Daghestan, they concentrated in the Khasavyurt region. Without legal recognition, the Nogais of North Caucasus are under the danger of assimilation to neighbouring Russian, Circassian and Kumuk people. The Kara-Nogays continued as nomads until the establishment of Soviet power.

A few thousand Nogais live in Dobruja (today in Romaniamarker), in the town of Mihail Kogălniceanu (Karamurat) and villages of Luminamarker (Kocali), Valea Dacilormarker (Hendekkarakuyusu), Cobadinmarker (Kubadin).

An estimated 90,000 Nogais live in Turkey today, mainly settled in Ceyhan/Adana, Ankara and Eskisehir provinces. The Nogai language is still spoken in some of the villages of Central Anatolia - mainly around the Salt Lake, Eskişehir and Ceyhan. To this day, Nogais in Turkey have maintained their cuisine: Üken börek, kasık börek, tabak börek, şır börek, köbete and Nogay şay (Nogai tea - a drink prepared by boiling milk and tea together with butter, salt and pepper). There are still people living in Dobruja speaking the Nogai language.

Some Nogais are also living in Ammanmarker, Jordanmarker , mainly in an agriculture area called Wadi El Sir. They immigrated from Turkeymarker to Wadi El Sir during the Ottoman era to support the Turkish army in the late 19th century during the Turkish occupation of Arabia. The Jordanian Nogais now communicate in Arabic, since Arabic was adopted as the official language of Jordan instead of Turkish. Jordanian Nogais mixed with Arab Jordanians and became part of the society but yet they believe that they are different.

The Junior Jüz, or the Lesser Horde of the Kazakhs, occupied the lands of the former Nogai Khanate in Western Kazakhstanmarker. They originate from the Nogais.

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